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Our Best Trait Can Also Be Our Own Downfall

It’s that time of the year again. No, I’m not talking about Christmas. I’m talking about the monsoon season.

Given the geographic location of the Philippines, typhoons are inevitable. On average, 20 typhoons visit the Philippines every year and 5 of which are destructive. This year, 2020, the Philippines was struck by the worst typhoon since 2009. We all thought it was Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni) but we were dead wrong. Starting out as a storm turned into a super typhoon, Ulysses (Vamco) did so much damage in a lot of areas. To say that we were caught off guard is an understatement.

But, these super typhoons shouldn’t come as a surprise. Over time, the country has witnessed how destructive these typhoons can be.

So, what’s really the issue here?

Obviously, there’s nothing we can do to prevent these typhoons from entering the country. But what we can control is how the country reacts every time a typhoon enters the country.

Sadly, our actions had been predictable. Once a super typhoon exits the country, but not before leaving massive destruction, the people are left on their own to deal with the mess. You cannot rely on the government to provide help. Rather, it will be up to the people to extend help whenever and wherever possible. Rinse and repeat.

Filipinos are known to be helpful and emphatic during times like these. Donation drives are being organized left and right. Asking friends and family to donate either cash or in-kind to help those who were badly affected by the typhoon.

This is, indeed, an admirable (and perhaps the best) trait of Filipinos. We try to help as much as we can. Why? Because the government is failing us miserably so we take it upon ourselves to take action.

But that’s the thing. This admirable trait is not helping us in the long-term. What’s worse, by extending help, we are actually bailing out the government from doing its duties and responsibilities to the people. We are tolerating the government’s inaction, feeling resigned and thinking – it is what is, let’s just do what we can in our own little ways.

What we are doing is only a band-aid solution to a much bigger problem that the country has. A systemic problem that has to be resolved only from the root cause – ineffective government leaders, policies, and systems.

I often wonder about my friends from first world countries who incessantly complain that their government is doing a shitty job. And oftentimes I would think (and admittedly, be judgmental) how they can be so entitled and still complain considering all the privileges that they have compared to third world countries.

And now I realized that these complaints are what makes them a first-world nation. I’m not saying that complaining is good, but rather, it is their way of refusing to take crap from the government and challenge their leaders to do better. And when they complain, their government doesn’t see them as activists. I’d like to believe that’s how democracy should work – a two-way communication street between the government and its people.

So why can’t we do the same? Why are we tolerating our government’s ineffectiveness and inaction? Why can’t we demand the government to do better and be better? Or maybe, it’s our own doing. Electing dumb politicians to lead this country and do it all over again time after time. Indeed, a face-palm moment.

I guess everyone is to blame. But it’s never too late to break this cycle. Never too late to demand better leadership, to set high standards, and expect more.